Senators begin work on rewriting No Child Left Behind


by Brian Washington

Members of the U.S. Senate are looking at amendments to the Strengthening America’s Schools Act (S. 1094)—legislation designed to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the K-12 law otherwise known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

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The Strengthening America’s Schools Act was introduced last week by Iowa Senator Tom Harkin and is one of several bills on the Hill designed to remake NCLB. Other measures include legislation sponsored by Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander and House Bill 5, which represents the U.S. House of Representatives’ attempt at overhaul the law.

It is long past time to replace No Child Left Behind with a fair, flexible, and innovative law that leads to real, sustainable opportunities for all of our students to succeed—that is the message recently delivered to Senators on behalf of 3 million educators nationwide.

In a letter to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, the National Education Association—which represents the teachers and education support professionals who work in our public schools—is calling on committee members to keep fairness, equity, and shared responsibility “front and center” in order to succeed at providing all students with a great public education. It has also outlined several strengths and challenges linked to the Harkin bill. Among the legislation’s strengths:

  • It recognizes the value of early childhood education by supporting the development and implementation of early learning guidelines;
  • It requires states to publish equity report cards; and
  • Calls for the establishment of teacher evaluations using multiple measures and educator input.

Some of educators’ concerns about the bill include:

  • It does not do enough to ensure equity;
  • Continues to narrowly focus school accountability on assessments, and fails to address shortcomings in the current approach to assessing students with disabilities;  and
  • Provides little charter school accountability or public transparency.

In a separate letter, NEA has also outlined its positions on several amendments proposed for the Harkin Bill.

Click here to tell your elected officials what you think should be in the ESEA law. And if you want to know how you can impact the laws that impact students, educators, and our public schools, click here.

Reader Comments

  1. I am a elementary music teacher, and the absurd emphasis on testing of my students is seen every day, even in my classes. My students are forced to take tests 5 times a year (called progress monitoring) in addition to the PSSA (Pennsylvania state tests). It is ridiculous and leads me to believe that testing companies are somehow profitng AND lobbying for more, regardless of the affect it has on my students. The arts have also felt the blow, as my colleagues and I are viewed as second class citizens (my desk is in the hallway and I don’t even have a classroom). Our classes are cancelled when testing occurs. I even got reprimanded for putting my cart back into a room I usually keep it in because they were testing in that room. It makes my students, colleagues and entire district crazy when these tests occur and there is nothing we can do to make our kids care when they are constantly being inundated with tests!

    1. Ever since NCLB became law, and educators were forced to teach to a test made up by people that do not directly work with children, the result has been the children of the United States, ” being left behind”. NCLB created a generation of non-thinkers.

      Being an educator for numerous years, the skills both in writing and math, have taken a nose dive. High school students have difficulty writing essays, basic math and algebra skills, remembering what has been taught, and taking ownership and responsibility for their learning. If a child does not do well in the classroom, it is the educator’s fault. The child or parent, does not realize the educator can not do it alone. The child must complete homework, ask questions, study, etc. It is the parent’s responsibility to monitor their child. For there to be success, everyone must be involved and be dedicated.

      Of course, testing is important, but be realistic about it. With the use of technology, understanding of concepts as well as the application of these concepts, allows us to check for understanding. The new generation of educators and students will see these changes.
      We as educators need to challenge our students to think outside the box. The Department of Education needs to design our educational system, so the United States can compete with the rest of the world.

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